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Historic Textiles in Demand

11th February 2019.

Historic textiles drew strong bidding in Tennants Auctioneers’ sale of Costume, Accessories & Textiles on 9th February, with pieces from the 17th and 18th century and pieces with strong local provenance coming out on top.

Having attracted an exceptional level of interest before sale, was a collection of quilts and sundry items from the Estate of Hannah Hauxwell – the County Durham hill farmer who became a celebrity after a Yorkshire Television documentary in the late 1970s. The quilts, made by members of Hannah’s family, including her grandmother Elizabeth Bayles, were beautifully preserved and garnered bidding well above estimate. The top lot was a large late 19th century cotton strippy quilt, signed ‘E B’, for Hannah’s grandmother, which sold for £1,500 (plus buyer’s premium) against a pre-sale estimate of £300-500. Amongst the consigned items from her estate were a number of wooden knitting sheaths – designed to hold double-ended knitting needles. Highly collectable in their own right, with added provenance these good north-country examples sold strongly. The top-selling sheath was a 19th century example carved with ‘E B’ (again for Elizabeth Bayles), selling for £850 (plus buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £100-150.

The top lot of the sale was a pair of 18th century gold and green silk brocade shoes – woven with silver thread and sold with a pair of associated 18th century pattens, which sold for £1,900 (plus buyer’s premium). Examples of 17th century needlework were amongst the oldest items in the sale, with two silk stumpwork pictures, a type of three-dimensional raised embroidery selling strongly. The first, selling for £1,100 (plus buyer’s premium), depicted the Five Senses in the guise of five ladies, surrounded by motifs including lions, birds, butterflies, silk and swans. The second, depicting King Charles II and his wife Catherine in a cartouche of woven metallic threads, topped with the initials M and H, and surmounting a leopard chasing a stag was sold for £1,500 (plus buyer’s premium).

Finally, a colourful and detailed Victorian panel of crazy patchwork with good provenance sold for £1,600 (plus buyer’s premium). The patchwork made by Sarah Eliza Pye from patches of silks and velvets. Sarah Eliza and James Pye lived at Wray in Lancashire, with James working at the Bell Busk Silk Mill in Leeds. In 1911 the family moved to Skipton, where James set up as a property agent and rent collector – indeed there is still a James Pye and Sons Estate Agents in Skipton today. Dated 1897, it is possible that the patchwork was made to celebrate Sarah’s 40th birthday or to commemorate Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and it is likely that the scraps of fabric were brought back from the mill by her husband.

The sale resulted in a total hammer price of £53,270 with 94% of the 228 lots sold.

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